18 Jul 2022 — A non-profit committee of US-based doctors is asking the Biden-Harris administration to put the benefits of plant-based diets and ingredients at the center of discussions in the upcoming White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Health (PCRH) in Washington, DC, which says it has over 17,000 members, states that plant-based nutrition may be the only way to address and improve the US’s widening health gaps.
“While obesity rates and diet-related diseases in the United States are on the rise, especially among people of color, nutrition and food policy in the US still does not warn against the contribution of meat and dairy products to obesity risk and its accompanying health problems,” the authors state.
“Nor does our current nutrition policy highlight the benefits of a plant-based diet with regard to chronic disease prevention or encourage our nation’s health care professionals to learn about these benefits.”
“The White House should use this opportunity to center the conference’s discussion on the benefits of plant-based nutrition.”
Policy holds the key?
The PCRH holds that as long as US Dietary Guidelines promote and prescribe the consumption of meat and dairy over foods it states actually combat diet-related disease and illness, the health gap in America will continue to widen.
Innova Market Insights reports that a growing number of consumers want, or are at least willing to try, new plant-based ingredients and products but are concerned with what they consider to be higher prices and limited choices. Moreover, a recent study shows that up to 60% of 18 to 44-year-old Millennials and Gen Zers expect plant-based options for products and ingredients.
Innova also ranked “Plant-Based: The Canvas for Innovation” as second on its list of Top Trends for 2022. Studies have revealed that many are now choosing these options because they align with their concerns, which increasingly include the effects of climate change.
“A low-fat plant-based diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, is a great way to achieve good health,” the PCRH stresses. “These foods are full of fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals, free of cholesterol, and low in calories and saturated fat. Eating a variety of these foods provides the protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients consumers need.”
Focus on education
Additionally, the PCRH affirms previous findings of the ability of plant-based diets to manage, prevent and even reverse heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
With this in mind, the PCRH believes that the government should change the guidelines and institute policy to increase the availability of plant-based nutrition in schools and hospitals, as well as adding more plant and animal-specific curricula at medical schools to make sure physicians are better informed.
The PCRH illustrates the latter by arguing that surveys taken in 2005, 2010 and 2015 reveal that mandatory nutrition-specific curricula addressing the link between diet and some of the top health problems are declining.
The high cost of meat and dairy
The PCRH states that the risks associated with consuming meat and dairy are well documented, arguing that those who consume animal-based nutrition may increase their risk of dying from a chronic disease by 23% over those whose main sources of nutrition are plant-based.
The authors state that the World Health Organization classified meat consumption as carcinogenic in 2015 after it was significantly linked to colorectal cancer. Moreover, the PCRH states that research reveals that the risk of developing prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and the overall risk of cancer mortality increases for those who daily eat 50 g of processed meats.
Furthermore, the PRCH says that “Milk and other dairy products increase the risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers; they offer little if any protection for bone health. Dairy products also cause bloating, diarrhea and gas in the tens of millions of Americans who are unable to digest lactose.”
The statement calls attention to the fact that over 70% of the world population are lactose intolerant and experience actual physical discomfort after consuming dairy, stating that, according to the National Institutes of Health, around 80% to 100% of American Indians, 95% of Asian Americans, 50% to 80% of Hispanics and 60% to 80% of African Americans are lactose intolerant.
It also decries that US policy continues to subsidize and promote these products heedless of what they say is “overwhelming” scientific evidence on the role of meat and dairy consumption in chronic disease and calls into question the health benefits of these products.
Edited By William Bradford Nichols
This feature is provided by FoodIngredientsFirst’s sister website, NutritionInsight.
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